Jake Kasdan has got a really good thing with Sex Tape stars Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel -- you can even see it in that first Sex Tape trailer!. We met Kasdan for an exclusive interview to talk about his latest comedy and wondered when he could tell that the talented trio had something special.
Kasdan, Segel and Diaz first hooked up on the highly successful Bad Teacher and it was in the early days of shooting that comedy that he knew he needed a film where his stars could share more than a few scenes. Kasdan talks about how Sex Tape filled that need and why his R-rated comedies must have heart, and that is a standard for all Kasdan comedies.
The director also dished how he chooses TV or film for his next project (he’s behind New Girl among other things), as well as how it was more than growing up in the household that includes Star Wars: Episode VII screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan as his father that made him pursue a life as a storyteller.
Movie Fanatic: There’s such an ease to Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel together and we’ve seen it in Bad Teacher and now in Sex Tape. When did you first notice that? Was it during rehearsals for Bad Teacher or where?
Jake Kasdan: It’s a lucky thing. Jason and I go way back from Freaks and Geeks. I’ve known, since then, that he’s one of the funniest guys in the world and also just a great actor. He’s so funny that people don’t realize what a great actor he is and they’re about to. Between Sex Tape and another thing he has coming up, Jason is in a great zone right now. Cameron and I had never met before Bad Teacher, but had an instantaneous connection and meeting of the minds. Over the course of Bad Teacher, we saw that Jason and Cameron had an effortless flow that is about a commonness in what kind of actors they are and what their sense of humor is and what kind of people they are. That they would be so magical together was a surprise and this seemed like a great opportunity.
Movie Fanatic: They have a lot more screen time together in this.
Jake Kasdan: That’s a thing. They only had like six scenes together in Bad Teacher. One of the things that was so attractive about this is that they would be together the whole time and we could go deeper in completely different characters and completely different material. They’re both R-rated comedies, but they’re such different movies. It would give us a new forum for what they do so well.
Movie Fanatic: Something that is very present in Sex Tape and was in Bad Teacher too is a lot of heart. Is that a conscious thing that is always part of a Kasdan comedy?
Jake Kasdan: I hook into everything I work on, even wild comedy like this, at its emotional core. That’s the thing that makes me think I can make the movie. The thing that is so attractive about this idea and this movie is that aspects of it were so embedded in this big comedy idea. You could do this sweet story about a couple trying to take care of their sex life and their relationship within the broader context of this wild ride that would be fun to watch. If you did that with the right balance, both aspects would be better.
Movie Fanatic: I was curious about you. Growing up as the son of Lawrence Kasdan, there are any number of avenues you could have gone down. What was it about the life of a storyteller that you found irresistible?
Jake Kasdan: It’s one of those things where I grew up around it and I could see it was great work and you’re fortunate to do it if you have the opportunity. That was always how my dad treated it in my house -- it was a gift and the best gig in the world. And it looked appealing in that way. The life part of it truly fascinated me. Then, you get older and it becomes a question of whether that is something that you are going to try to do and then in the course of trying, I discovered that I really loved the actual work of it, the endeavor, the writing. I loved specifically the kick of making people laugh. I just kept going.
Movie Fanatic: You work both in television and on films over the years. How does a story strike you that you have to work on it, and how do you decide what format it will take?
Jake Kasdan: Usually with comedy it comes down to something that makes you laugh in a unique perspective that feels unique. With TV, I respond to really good writers writing the right thing, and that’s what gets you in the door, and then it becomes about who’s in it. TV has to be a living thing, hopefully, for a really long time that movies don’t have to be. With movies, it is purely about what speaks to me.
Check out Kasdan, Diaz and Segel's first work and watch Bad Teacher online.